Tom Daher will never forget the call he took when he learned his dad Tannous had been killed by a drug driver as he tended to a relative’s garden.
“No one is ever prepared to get a phone call saying one of your loved ones has passed away,” Mr Daher said.
“I received the phone call from a family friend, they didn’t tell me dad had died, but I knew he had died from the tone of their voice.
“I rang back up and said ‘tell me exactly what’s happened?’.”
Tannous, 82, had been gardening with his brother-in-law in Merrylands when a truck, driven by a driver who had taken a dangerous dose of prescription medication, lost control and hit the two men in 2017.
Mr Daher said he was at a loss over how to deal with everything and had no support network following the death of his father.
But he got chatting to Crash Investigation Unit Detective Inspector Katie Orr, who recently led the push to establish NSW Police’s new Road Trauma Support Group after she realised there were gaps in services available for those whose lives have been torn apart by tragedies on the state’s roads.
The group, which had its inaugural meeting this week, will take on a similar role to the Homicide Victims’ Support Network, which was established almost 30 years ago when the parents of murder victims Anita Cobby and 10-year-old Ebony Simpson met each other.
The families of those killed on NSW roads will be referred to the group, where they will be connected with counsellors and other services.
Detective Inspector Orr said the idea for the Road Trauma Support Group came about after witnessing the hardship of victims and when she met Mr Daher.
“As time went on, I saw what (families) had to deal with and Tom reached out,” she said.
“He didn’t know what was happening, he was just lost … I just started to think how we need to improve how we support people.
“(The inaugural meeting) was about getting the families together to see what they need during the investigation and court process.”
Mr Daher, who is launching the group in partnership with NSW Police, said he had needed a support network.
“There’s a lot of stress, you’re totally unprepared, there’s lots of things to do, you need to talk to the police, the department of public prosecutions, organise a funeral and deal with your emotions at the same time,” he said.
“I said to Katie there’s nothing there to help people like this, she agreed … there is no support network … you can ring counsellors, but not all counsellors have dealt with road trauma.
“There’s support networks for families who have gone through a murder, but for road trauma there’s nothing left and you’re left to fend on your own.”
The inaugural meeting was attended by more than 40 people, including the families of road crash victims and the DPP.
Speakers at the event included Detective Inspector Orr, Mr Daher and Martha Jabour, the executive director of the Homicide Victims’ Support Group.Stay informed
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